TurboTax Wants to Keep Your Taxes Complex

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In some countries, taxes are virtually automatic: No need to hire anybody or spend hours with forms and receipts. But not here, and the company behind TurboTax is spending millions to keep it that way.

The Oneida Daily Dispatch reports on the opposition to return-free filing – an idea that allow millions of Americans to file taxes simply by verifying pre-filled personal information and math on an online, then clicking “OK.” Presidents Reagan (yes, the idea is that old) and Obama both endorsed the concept, but alas…

Why hasn’t it become a reality? Well, for one thing, it doesn’t help that it’s been opposed for years by the company behind the most popular consumer tax software — Intuit, maker of TurboTax. Conservative tax activist Grover Norquist and an influential computer industry group also have fought return-free filing.

Intuit has spent $11.5 million in the past five years lobbying against legislation that would make easier taxes happen. But the change could save taxpayers as much as $2 billion and 225 million hours, according to estimates.

Intuit argues it might cost some taxpayers more money, and that such changes would hurt its business. It’s a member of group that argues easy taxes would be a “massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program.”

Of course, what they don’t mention is the easy form is optional. Don’t trust the IRS’ calculation? Nobody would stop you from doing things the way they are done now. It just might cut into Intuit’s $4.2 billion annual revenues a bit.

By the way, many people can already get their taxes done free – but the IRS doesn’t have the same marketing budget as TurboTax and H&R Block, so many taxpayers don’t know about it.

Stacy Johnson

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